Thursday, March 12, 2009

Heat stroke

HEAT stroke is a life-threatening illness characterized
by an elevated core body temperature
that rises above 40°C and central nervous
system dysfunction that results in delirium, convulsions,
or coma.

Despite adequate lowering of the body
temperature and aggressive treatment, heat stroke is
often fatal, and those who do survive may sustain permanent
neurologic damage.

Data from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention show that from
1979 to 1997, 7000 deaths in the United States were
attributable to excessive heat.
The incidence of such
deaths may increase with global warming and the predicted
worldwide increase in the frequency and intensity
of heat waves.

Research performed during the past decade has
shown that heat stroke results from thermoregulatory
failure coupled with an exaggerated acute-phase response
and possibly with altered expression of heatshock

The ensuing multiorgan injury results
from a complex interplay among the cytotoxic
effect of the heat and the inflammatory and coagulation
responses of the host.

In this article, we summarize
the pathogenesis of heat stroke as it is currently
understood and explore the potential therapeutic and
preventive strategies.

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